Monday, March 31, 2008

Historic Garvanza

Historic Home in Garvanza
On Saturday, my good friend Rhoda and I attended an estate sale in historic Garvanza, a section of Highland Park.
I found some interesting data and photos online about this house:
The SAME House, Before Restoration, photo by Lindsay William-Ross
"The home at 200 North Avenue 66 is known as the Dr. Williams Residence, named for its 1936 purchasor. It was thought to have been built prior to 1900 and had many owners before the noted physician bought it. Dr. Henry Smith Williams "wrote more than 50 books on medicine, birds, science, and nature. Under an assumed name, Williams also wrote scientific detective stories using a doctor as the hero" (Treasures of Garvanza). He also painted from nature and many of his illustrations are viewable in museum collections. The home is currently undergoing a massive restoration."....Lindsay William-Ross on LAist.
Well, the house HAS BEEN restored. It's amazing. The items we were perusing for purchase belonged to a designer. There were boxes and shelves of props, trinkets, paintings, books, furniture and other decorative items. We both managed to find a few things.
Standing in line, waiting to get in was most interesting. We bumped into some friends and others interested in the history of Los Angeles. It was a most fascinating morning.
After the sale, we went over to Galco's Market to stock up on some soda pop. Then, we motored over to Eagle Rock for lunch at the Oinkster. Details to follow.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Knitting Muses

Roz, Celia and Mae with Little Ellen
My Mom (left), my Aunt Celia (center) and my Aunt Mae (right) are my knitting muses. The photo above was taken at my Brother's bar mitzvah reception at the Sportsman's Lodge in 1958. I love that we were all dressed up in our temple hats, holding cocktails! I wish I had photos of my Mom and Aunties actually knitting. I was probably too busy trying to learn knit techniques to take any photos of such activities. None of the above ladies knits any longer. Over the years they have all given me their various knit and crochet supplies, including yarn, instructions, aluminum knitting needles, etc.
I don't remember Mom ever really knitting anything for me, except for some Barbie clothes. She knit a few things for herself and I do remember a zippered, royal blue jacket she knit for my brother. Auntie Celia made me many sweaters when I was little, knowing that when I outgrew them, the sweaters would come back to her for my younger cousins' use. Aunt Mae knit many things for her home; she was also VERY into needlepoint and bargello and made so many gorgeous pillows.
On my Dad's side of the family, my Aunt Frances was the knitter. She still knits. Over the years she has given me many vintage knit-struction booklets.
With all of these family influences, how could I have NOT become a knitter and crocheter!
This weekend, I plan on practicing my knitterly skills. Have a great one!

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Brown Acres"

Our Wednesday dinner group went to a book signing last night instead of our usual meet-up. The name of the book, "Brown Acres" ... An Intimate History of the Los Angeles Sewers, by Anna Sklar. Described on the Angel City Press website: "The complex and often alarming history of the Los Angeles city sewer system is captured for the first time. With more than fifty photographs, diagrams and maps, Brown Acres is the first historical narrative to detail any world-class city’s sewer system—complete with the relationship between headstrong politicians and the reformers who sought to “heal the bay” after a century of pollution and contamination. Brown Acres provides a unique look at the underground history of Los Angeles."
The book signing took place at the Toto showroom in West Hollywood. Toto specializes in deluxe bathroom fixtures. It was a perfect place for this event. Anna Sklar signed books, answered questions and was a most gracious hostess. Publishers Paddy Calistro and Scott McAuley were there, as well as book designer, Amy Inouye. I can't wait to start reading this book. Anything having to do with the history of Los Angeles piques my interest!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Slight Progress

Larry and I are embarking on a home remodeling project. Awhile back, Larry jackhammered our long driveway and piled the cement chunks on our patio. Now that our remodel plans have been finalized and the engineering part of the project is underway, it was time to do some yard cleanup.
Muscle-man Larry (not) piled up all of the cement debris into a rented bin and then had the bin hauled away. This is a tiny step on our way to making our backyard a human habitat, rather than a neighborhood critter habitat!
It's so nice to be able to see the roses again. After all the construction is done, a major house-painting will be scheduled!


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Koigu

I stopped by A Mano on Saturday to check out their 40% off Koigu sale. When I got there most of the Koigu selection was gone. HOWEVER, I did manage to purchase three skeins of the above colorway. I'm not a blue person. I almost never wear blue (except aqua). I thought I might use some of my Koigu stash and pair this blue-ish yarn with another color and knit one of those chevron scarves, where you alternate the colorways every two rows.
When I got home I found a pinkish Koigu in my stash. Perfect! An Easter scarf....all pink and blue and pastel! I cast on for the chevron scarf and didn't like it. The pile o' Koigu layed around for a few hours until I decided to just try my go-to "Rhoda" crocheted scarf pattern. I love it! I may gift this creation or I may keep it for myself. Once it's blocked, it should be stunning!


Monday, March 24, 2008

Excellent Easter

We had a wonderful Easter Sunday at Carol's and Thane's home! They are such fantastic hosts. Their backyard was all set for partying. The appetizers, meal and dessert were divine! We had cheese, various salsas, deviled eggs, champagne. Then, the main meal was barbecued lamb in three different marinades, bbq'd chicken, minty bulgur salad, green salad, mushroom bread-pudding, sweet potato fritters. Dessert was my blueberry cobbler, a divine lemon curd cake and the topper was a faboo chocolate cake inscribed with "Welcome Back Jesus." All of the guests had a marvelous time. We even e-talked with a couple of friends who had recently moved to New Zealand so they could share in the fun. Thank you Carol and Thane for a wonderful Easter celebration!

Photos of Super-Model Chick by Larry Underhill....all other photos by Ellen Bloom.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Celebrations

It's Purim, it's Easter, it's Spring! Time to celebrate.
We bake Hamentaschen for Purim
We knit Peeps for Easter

We watch the Daffodils bloom in our yard

I'll try to remember to wear my Queen Esther crown at the WeHo SnB tonight in honor of Purim. I may just have to bring some hamantaschen to share with my knit-peeps!

This weekend we're invited to Carol's and Thane's house for the Orphan's Easter Fest. I'm bringing dessert. I'll probably whip up a batch or two of my easy cobbler. For those of you not interested in baking, but you want to please and impress your guests that crave sweets, here's the recipe:


20 oz. can of crushed pineapple (with juice)

16 oz. can pie filling (any flavor...cherry, blueberry, peach)

1 package yellow cake mix, dry

2 sticks sweet butter, melted

In a 13 x 9-inch Pyrex pan, spread all ingredients in layers evenly. Do not mix the layers. First, spread out the crushed pineapple, add the pie filling on top of that (you might have to mix with the pineapple to spread it evenly). Pour the cake mix on top, evening out as you pour. Drizzle the melted sweet butter over the cake mix. Bake at 350 F until brown, approximately 1 hour. The liquid from the pineapple and pie filling meets up with the melted butter and cooks the cake mix in-between. You end up with a crunchy, crumbly cobbler! Serve with ice-cream or whipped cream. This is a REALLLLLLY sweet dessert.

Ellen's Blueberry Cobbler


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A New Fave Artist

Toby Corbett with his series, "Disruptive Patterns"

Between us, Larry and I come in contact with lots of Los Angeles artists. Larry is constantly being called by galleries to photographically copy paintings for reproduction. We go to lots of gallery shows. I am the curator of the very small gallery at my office. Basically, this gallery is just for employees to view. We try to feature employees' artwork, but many times, I've gone outside the company for artist's work to exhibit.

One of these artists, exhibiting now at my office gallery is Toby Corbett. Toby is a repeat artist for the gallery. I really love his work. Toby's main profession is Production Designer for feature films and television. Some of his jobs as a Production Designer have been Crossing Over with Sean Penn, Harrison Ford; Honeydripper with Danny Glover; Silver City with Chris Cooper, Richard Dreyfuss; The Cooler with William Macy, Alec Baldwin, Maria Bello and more.

"Junkyard" - Acrylic on Canvas by Toby Corbett

"Red Zacalillies" - Acrylic on Canvas by Toby Corbett
Toby has artwork representing many styles. I think this must be because of his influences working in film. He has to accomodate different times, modes and characters in his field. I believe this has shaped Toby's art. You can read all about Toby and his artwork here. His prices are very reasonable. If you are interested in finding out about his artwork, feel free to e-mail him.

"There's A Liar Underneath"

Acrylic on Paper, mounted on Canvas by Toby Corbett


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Small World

Chez Shoes @ lunch today

It's such a small world. A few months ago I posted about SIGNS in L.A. I received quite a few comments on that post. One was from Chez Shoes, asking about a sign she'd seen on North Fairfax Avenue years ago. But that's another story for another day.

I started following Chez Shoes' blog posts. Turns out she's on Ravelry, so I linked with her there. As I kept reading her blog, I saw that we had quite a bit in common. Eventually, she ended up moving to my neighborhood. I gave her some tips and info on places to go. THEN, I found out that her new job is one block away from my job! Yeah...small world.

Today, we met for lunch. I didn't know what she looked like because she never posts photos of her face on her blog. She's soooo mysterious! She recognized me, 'cause my mug is all over my blog! We found out that we have many friends and acquaintances in common, as well as hobbies, likes and dislikes.

I just LOVE the internets!

Ellen's Battered Keens

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Report on Vacation in L.A.

Bob Stuff for Sale @ Skirball Giftshop
We had a lovely weekend! I've been trying to keep that vacation-feeling alive, since our return from San Francisco a few weeks ago. On Friday night we had dinner at Truxton's. I read about it on a fellow-knitster's blog and wanted to check it out. It's in the little Westchester Village, between Manchester and La Tijera, east of Sepulveda. It was crowded, but this is a very large restaurant, so we were seated quickly. I'd classify this place as a combo between Cheesecake Factory and Appleby's. The food was good, served beautifully, excellent service. The menu is varied. I had the Thai Cobb (heheheh) salad; Larry had the fish tacos. Truxton's bar was quite lively on a Friday night. They have private dining rooms for parties and the parking is easy. I'd definitely go back. It is one of those cavern spaces though with all hard surfaces (noisy), so if you want to talk, you might have to yell a bit on a busy night.

On Saturday morning we zoomed up to the Skirball Museum to see Bob Dylan's American Journey, 1956-1966. The lovely Darcy works at the Skirball, so she was sweet enough to get us FREE passes to the event! Thanks, Darcy! Larry and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The Skirball is in a beautifully landscaped setting, just north of the Getty on Sepulveda. We interacted with the Dylan exhibits, read all about Bob's life and times, looked at all of the ephemera, watched videos and Larry even engaged in the simulated music performance space. We also looked in on the R.B. Kitaj exhibit. I've always loved his paintings.

We were starved after all that museum-ing, so we bopped on down Sepulveda and had a yummy lunch (chicken pita sandwiches) at Zankou.
Later that evening we went downtown to Stuart Rapeport's art opening at Dangerous Curve Gallery. It was very well attended, inspite of the blustery weather. The entire gallery was taken over by Stuart's artwork, centering on dogs. It was quite faboo. There was even a dog performance piece and live music!

All in all, our vacation day in L.A. was great!


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Red Heart Rocks!

The Designer and her Muse
I finished the sweater I was knitting for my Mom. We had breakfast today with Mom and my step-Dad, Hal. They live in the Marina, so we met them at this really good coffee shop called Nichols. After breakfast, we went back to their place. I had Mom model the cardigan. It fits her beautifully. She loves it. She chose the yarn because she loved the color. You know how Red Heart yarn is kinda' crunchy and brittle-feeling? Well, since it's 100% virgin acrylic, I knew the cardi wouldn't shrink if I machine-washed it. So I did. It still wasn't soft enough. I added a capful of fabric softener to the next wash. That stiff, crunchy acrylic cardigan came out feeling like the softest alpaca! It was amazing. Now the sweater has a very nice drape to it too.
Today, yarn manufacturers are creating softer acrylic yarn, like Caron Simply Soft, Red Heart Soft, Bernat Satin Yarn, Paton's SWS, etc. The yarn in Red Heart Super Savers is still stiff. Fabric softener changes all that! You too can make an entire adult size cardigan, calling for approximately 900 yards (3 skeins of RH) for Under $10! Don't get me wrong....I still love my Noro, Koigu, Rowan, Misti-Alpaca and other fancy yarns, but for durability, wear and economy, I believe in the Goddess Red Heart!
Hal and Roz
OK, that's enough for yarn endorsement time. More about our Vacation in L.A. weekend tomorrow.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Vacation in L.A.

Weekend Reading Material
Even though we got back from our long weekend in San Francisco two weeks ago, I'm still in a vacation frame of mind. I want to be on vacation. The weather is great. I've got spring fever. Unfortunately, there's this time-consuming blockage to vacation time called work. So, this weekend we're going on vacation in Los Angeles.
Tonight, we're trying a new-to-us restaurant in Los Angeles. Tomorrow, we're going to the Skirball Museum to see the Bob Dylan exhibit as well as this one and this one. Tomorrow night, we're going to the Dangerous Curve Gallery downtown LA to see an art show by our friend, Stuart Rapeport. Sunday, breakfast with the folks in the Marina. All that running around should give me a vacation-like feeling this weekend.
In my down-time, I'll be reading "Knitting New Mittens & Gloves" by Robin Melanson. It's never too early to start knitting gifts for next Chanukah and Christmas. Here, in Los Angeles, we can really only wear mittens and gloves for a few months out of the year. However, it does get chilly in the early mornings and evenings. This is a lovely book. The patterns range from easy to difficult. I'm most interested in the many wristwarmer patterns. You might remember that I made about 20 pairs of wristwarmers for this past year's holiday gifts. I kept knitting the same pattern over and over. I wish I'd had this book for reference. I definitely would have changed-up my basic pattern. Ooogle a few examples from the book...they're gorgeous!
Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Daylight Savings Time

Woo Hoo! I love daylight savings time. Granted, it is difficult the first week, getting up an hour earlier in the morning. HOWEVER, there is sunlight when I drive home from work. "Drive" being the operative word. Most of the time I'm idling in traffic, not DRIVING at all! Instead of getting all frustrated and angry, I just pull out my knitting and/or crocheting and work on it until the traffic starts to move. You may not want to be driving behind me.
See you at the WeHo SnB tonight?


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"Bridge Mix"

6th St. Bridge over dry L.A. River
I'm quite excited about this spring's tour sponsored by the Los Angeles Conservancy. It's called SPANNING HISTORY: THE BRIDGES OF THE LOS ANGELES RIVER. In addition to these bridges spanning the Los Angeles River and connecting the Eastside with the Westside of Los Angeles, the bridges and the L.A. River have been used in tons of photo shoots and movies over the years. A few films I can think of, Chinatown, Grease, Escape from L.A. and Volcano. One of my favorite L.A. rock bands, The Blazers shot their album cover on the First Street Bridge. Most of these bridges were built in the late 1920's/early 1930's. Whenever I'm driving on one of the bridges I feel the history of Los Angeles beneath my wheels.

For ticket and tour info: Check here.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Blocking and Buttons

Finished! Finished! Finished! I crocheted the button band on Mom's cardigan last night. Now, I'll give it a cold water wash and light tumble dry (it is 100% virgin acrylic yarn), add some simple buttons on the yoke portion and that's it. I'll see Mom on Sunday and have her model it for photos.

This was a fun cardigan to knit. I used a garter and slip-stitch pattern for the lower body of the sweater to give it a swing-coat look.

Pattern: Of course, it's another top-down, adapted from one of the patterns in "Top Down Sweaters: Knit to Fit from Top to Bottom" by Doreen L. Marquart.
Size: Women's Medium
Yarn: Red Heart Super Save, Acrylic, Color: Cafe. Almost 3
Needles: Addi Turbo Lace Circs, size 10 (yoke and sleeves); size 10-1/2 Addi Turbo Circs (body); Addi Turbo Lace Circs, size 6 (sleeve ribbing).
Crochet Hook: Size "H", button band.

I think Mom will get a lot of use out of this easy-care sweater.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Saturday SnB's

Annika and Oliver
We had a great turnout at this past Saturday's WeHo SnB. One of the main attractions was that Frank brought his little boy, Oliver. A few of us gifted Oliver with some new couture. Natalie knitted him the most darling pale pumpkin pointed hat. Carla sewed him a bib and a darling stuffed bunny. I crocheted him a little blue beanie. It's official now...Oliver is a star!

Later in the day I zoomed over to another SnB in Santa Monica...the Fairview Knitters. I was so engrossed in my knitting, that I forgot to take photos. There were about 7 or 8 people there. It was a nice day, so we sat on the patio. I really do like this group. They meet on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, 3:30-5:30pm at the Fairview Branch of the Santa Monica Library, Ocean Park & 21st. Why don't you join us sometime?


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Nat'l. Crochet Month

March is National Crochet Month. The Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) is trying to further the art of crochet and has suggested activities to foster this great art/craft. CGOA proposes that we crochet for charity, teach someone to crochet, exhibit our work with other crocheters and just generally improve our knowledge of crochet.
For my contribution, I'm willing to help anyone learn to crochet if they are attending one of the Stitch 'n Bitch meetings where I promise to show up this week.
Tonight, I'll be at the Original Farmers Market, 3rd and Fairfax, upstairs dining area from 7-9pm. Saturday, I'll be at the same place, from 10 am to noon. Saturday afternoon I'll be at the Fairview Knitters Group, Santa Monica Library, 2101 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica from 3:30 - 5:30pm.
If you're a reader of this blog, you know that I LOVE the fiber arts. I've been knitting and crocheting for many, many years. I like them both. Knitting is good for garments, crochet is good for trim on garments, household items, etc. Of course, crochet is getting popular for garments again. It's a fact that crocheting uses up about one-third more yarn than knitting, so I always try to take this into consideration when making a garment. If you desire a more flexible crocheted piece, you can usually achieve this by using lighter weight yarn and/or a larger crochet hook. The possibilities are endless. Below is an old, blurry video that Laurie Perry took of me at the Farmers Market, trying to demonstrate the Herringbone Half-Double Crochet Stitch. Notice the lively group of knitters and crocheters in the background. We do have fun!

See you this week. Bring your hook and some practice yarn!


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Auntie Frances

I gave Auntie Frances a crocheted scarf
A few weeks ago we celebrated my Auntie Frances' 88th birthday! My Uncle Mort (90) hosted us for a lovely brunch at Del Rey Yacht Club. Believe it or not, Aunt Frances still knits! She used to help me with my knitting when I was a little girl. She has also given me many of her vintage knitting pattern magazines and books during the past 45 years.
I love getting together with my cousins. Since we're all very close in age and grew up in LA, we spent lots of time together as kids.

Larry with my cousins: JoEllen, Barbara, Amie

The next generation: Ben, MaHong, Mike
Uncle Mort, Auntie Frances, Ellen B.

Knit on, Auntie!

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Sensory Overload

You'd think, living in beautiful Los Angeles, I would be used to vivid colors, sunshine and gorgeous scenery. After our three-day visit to San Francisco, my visual senses are on overload! What a dazzling, vibrant City! If you check out my extra-long slide show on yesterday's post, you'll see what I mean.

Even though I visted two divine yarn shops, Artfibers and ImagiKnit, I only purchased a few skeins of yarn. I added to my Malabrigo collection at ImagiKnit; the colorway is called "Melilla". It reminds me of parrots. At Artfibers, I purchased some Valparaiso in a beautiful Baby Alpaca - Merino Wool blend, DK weight, shades of olive. I've already started knitting my sleeveless shell, designed by the wonderful Knitwear program at Artfibers. I'm using a basketweave stitch pattern to alleviate stockinette boredom. This will only add to my assortment of works in progress!


Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery